August 3, 2013 Saturday Afternoon, Trainings Workshop two

Barbara: We're jumping into a related new topic, states and stages of consciousness. What we're trying to do here, basically, is to set up a foundation: vipassana, working with spirit guidance, awareness of the chakras, and now, awareness of states and stages of consciousness, and later,  sound and akashic field  practice. So, continuing with a firm foundation.

Many of you have seen the consciousness chart in Cosmic Healing. Archaic, magical, mythic, rational, vision logic: the progression of consciousness. One of the things I want to bring out is that these different states and stages are all connected. It's not like living on the third floor of a building and then moving to a new apartment on the fourth floor, and you never return to the third floor again. It's also not like going up once to the seventh floor for half an hour and then losing it, moving back to the third floor forever. We are most stable at one level of consciousness, but we drop down to other levels and we ascend up to other levels, really on a daily basis.

I've used the traditional labels that many educators, psychologists, and philosophers have used. However, two men, Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, have a book Spiral Dynamics where they define the stages by color. I find this helpful because then we don't tend to think of, “Oh, I'm better than you. I'm vision logic and you're still magical.” Just different colors, and different colors have different weaknesses and different strengths.

For example, and this is direct from their book, red consciousness: raw power displays, immediate pleasure unrestrained by guilt, and yet also colorful and creative. They're not restrained. We jump up to yellow: big picture views, integrative structures, understanding the naturalness of chaos, the inevitability of change. And yet at that level it can be very hard to understand people that blow up with energy and grasp at power and so forth because we're trying to interpret it from our perspective as a yellow or turquoise, the higher levels of vision logic, rather than letting ourselves slip back into remembering that earlier level in ourselves and understanding it.

We look around the world. Certain countries like, I'm thinking here of the Taliban, the strong rules and restrictions, their strong sense of righteousness, people who will kill to promote their point of view; who preventing anyone from exploring any other points of view. There's so much fear in that view. But obviously you can't walk up to them and say, “I'm right, you're wrong,” because that's just what they're doing.

If we're to speak to people like this, it has to be from a place that understands where they are based on our own personal memories. Do any of you have memories of being 3 to 7 years old and very caught in “I'm right, you're wrong.”? How did this feel, really holding on to this view? I remember maybe in third grade, so I must have been about 8, literally getting into a fistfight with a boy who was bigger than me. We wrestled and punched each other, and we both went home with bloody noses and black eyes, because we disagreed on a certain point of view. It's a very helpful memory because it reminds me I'm not “better than.” Part of me is still in that level of consciousness, only I'm deeply determined not to enact that level of consciousness in the world in ways that cause harm. So that when it comes up, instead of fighting with it, trying to push it away, or instead of acting it out, I stop and just open my heart to what's coming up.

Last night, I don't know if all of you were here when I talked about the spiders. The second time an entity woke me up saying, “There's a spider,” an almost murderous rage came up in me. I just wanted to grab something and SPLAT! And I had to stop myself. To recognize the helplessness, the fear, and the anger I was feeling, and stop. I still knew I had to kill the spider, because it's venomous. It can cause a terrible reaction in me. But I can kill it while just taking a paper towel and wishing it well. Apologizing to it, saying, “I said I'm going to have to kill all the spiders that show up after that earlier request to leave and statement of intention. I'm sorry. I wish you well. I don't hate you.” This is part of compassion, to include oneself in that circle. If it's high on the ceiling, there is no way I can capture it. I had to use a swatter. I know some people would feel that is still killing, and not compassionate. Where do we each, individually draw the line? I really needed to let myself feel that rage and then to sit and do metta with it for ten minutes, because if I act from the rage,  I'm enhancing that hateful state of consciousness.

We are creatures of habit. If we enact less mature states of consciousness, repeatedly, we create the habitual pattern for them If I kill the spider with rage, what happens when my neighbor's dog comes and poops in my garden? I see the dog there --anger! Then what happens if my neighbor's kid hits a baseball through my window? At what point does the violent mind stop?

And yet, we do have to learn how to say no to aggression, no to abuse. We can use a memory of these earlier states of consciousness and how they felt in ourselves to know better how to respond to other people, and how to say no.

Not this workshop but in September, I'm going to teach you just a little bit of the training I experienced before going on Freedom Rides in the south and civil disobedience in peace work.  This was non-violence and certain forms of training we were given. The response comes from a strong place of loving connection with others, compassionate to the point that it's willing to say no to abuse, but says no with kindness and not with rage. To understand that, you've got to do your vipassana practice so you see the rage coming up.

Without my vipassana practice I would have been totally crazy last night. I'd killed a number of spiders. I went to sleep. I figured I'd been in this cabin for 15 years and I've only gotten one bite. How aggressive can they be? They're not going to bother me. Go to sleep. Trust spirit to wake me up if one is about to crawl on me, as spirit did. Go to sleep. So I lay in bed, did metta, and went to sleep.

So we can learn to handle our minds. I don't want to say control; that's an ego controlling. But to be present with our minds openheartedly, and to handle our minds and not get caught up in the stories. I have a beautiful T-shirt somebody gave me after a retreat. It has a picture of the Buddha on it and it says, “Don't believe everything you think.” We can learn to do this. The thoughts come up. We can learn to respond rather than react.

Most of our country is in rational country. In other parts of the world, much of the culture is in mythic or even magical consciousness. Some of our population in the United States has begun moving into vision logic consciousness. Many people are still at Level I of the three levels of vision logic consciousness, where there's an expanded viewpoint but still egocentric. It's still a bit “my view” and there's a little bit of attachment to “my view.”

As we move up in this spectrum, we really start to understand with the heart of compassion, “You're just as attached to your view as I am attached to my view.” We can talk to each other, then. We can really hear each other. I like the colors—green, yellow, and turquoise. The first level of vision logic consciousness, the green level, then, is still more egocentric and caught up in its own views. The yellow level is beginning to open out and consider the possibility that we're each seeing and hearing from our own discernment and from our own conditioning and none of it is necessarily right.

In Buddha dharma we talk about right view. Right view doesn't mean I'm right, you're wrong. Right view means opening to the clearest non-ego-centered discernment, really seeing things as they are. We might call it compassionate view.

With that as a foundation, we can move on into the turquoise level. The mistake made by some people in the turquoise level of vision logic consciousness is that because they understand everybody has views, they don't stand up for what seems right. In other words—I'm trying to think of a simple example. There's a little kid who's pestering us and throwing rocks, and you come up and say, “He shouldn't be pestering us. I'm going to punch him out.” I stand there and say, “Okay.” The kid's got a position, throwing rocks at me and hurting me. You've got a view that he should be eliminated or at least badly hurt. And I've got a view that nobody should hurt anybody.” Do I then step up and defend my view and say, “No, you may not stop him from throwing rocks. He may do whatever he wants to do because he's doing it from his own view and consciousness.”? Do I then punch you to stop you from beating him? And meanwhile he's throwing rocks at us.

So the challenge at this yellow and especially turquoise level of vision logic consciousness is that they're so attached to hearing everybody with an open heart and impartiality that they forget the possibility to stand up strongly and say, “No!” “No” can come from a deep place of compassion. But until the highest end of this turquoise level of vision logic, and moving on into the next level of consciousness, most people don't understand this.

I saw this repeatedly back in the ‘60's in civil rights demonstrations and peace demonstrations I participated in. I saw so many people with so much self-righteousness in these demonstrations, saying the other side is wrong. I also saw people saying, “Well, I understand it's their view, and this is my view. I can't push my view on other people. That's violence. So I'll just be quiet and I won't participate in the demonstrations.” A lot of people would say that. All this is going on in the self, “I won't participate because it's just my view against their view, and that's a violence to them. If you say you're non-violent, how can you go down there on a Freedom Ride?”  But compassion has to learn to say no, with lovingkindness.

This is a lot of what we're going to be doing in Weekend 3, working with this level of compassion. After you've done your vipassana practice and are more able to really be aware of what's happening moment by moment in your experience, we're going to move on to some practice situations. We tried this once, I'm remembering this with a big smile, in Venture Fourth. We had one group of people saying, “The lake belongs to me. Nobody else may use it.” I think another group of people we said were going to be of another culture or race, and they were going to come in wanting to swim in the lake. Confrontation happened. They were yelling at each other. They weren't really going to hit each other, but they were holding sticks and swimming noodles. The people defending the lake formed a line, blocking the lake from others and elbowing them out of the way. The people who wanted to swim in the lake walked back up the hill and sat down. They tried to skirt around the line. They were trying different things.

(paste pictures here if possible 100728 VF).

But finally, I don't remember how this came about, but they all started talking to each other about their views. “I have been taught to believe you will poison the lake. You can't go in the lake.” Trying to talk to each other. And at the end, everybody hugged each other-- I don't mean the end once we finished, but during this play acting, finally they saw that there was no way they could oppose each other anymore, and everybody hugged each other. Am I telling this right, those of you who were there? (yes) It was very powerful. It was a wonderful experience.

So we can learn to access that open heart, but it takes mindfulness not to slam the spider, not to slam the opposition, not to slam the thought that comes up and then the self-judgment, “I shouldn't have anger.” We learn how to feel that feeling of the open heart. Use the chakras, use vipassana, invite your guides to help; we have all of these tools. We can learn how to use these tools. It's beautiful.

I'm just going to speak briefly about these states and stages of consciousness from my personal experience.

The archaic. I have little memory of it. I have some very unclear memories of being a baby nursing at my mother's breast, feeling just completely connected to her. It's not a clear memory but has come up several times in deep meditation. I know intellectually that at that level there was no sense of being separate from the mother. Then the child must learn that in the relative sense, it is separate from the mother.

The magical level of consciousness, for me. I'm sharing these brief memories with you because I want you to go back and remember what you can, how it felt to be in each stage of consciousness. I had a nanny from the time I was an infant who took care of me, for the most part, although I also had loving parents. But she was the one who was with me all the time. She got sick when I was about 6 years old and had to leave. I was devastated; it was like losing my mother. I was told, “Don't be angry. It's not her fault.” Who was I going to be angry at? So I turned the anger on myself.

With the magical level of consciousness, I thought there was something poisonous in me that had hurt her and caused her to get sick and go away. If I could only fix this poisonous place in myself then everything would be okay again. Maybe she'd even come back. So we get into this kind of magical thinking. If I do this, if I say the right words, my ball team will win, and so forth. If they don't win, I don't yet have the right magic, the right words..

Mythic consciousness. As I progressed beyond that stage of losing Nanny, yet feeling very alone and vulnerable in the world, I picked up many rituals to keep me safe. Our house was a block from the railroad track, and sometimes at night I would hear the train going by. I had six big windows in my room, two whole walls of windows. I envisioned, because I was bad and something was going to punish me for being poisonous and forcing Nanny away, that what I had to do at night was sit up and look at the windows facing the train track. As long as I looked in that direction, I had power and they couldn't come through. This was a ritual that probably went on for about five years, from 6 to 11. Finally as a teenager, it was hard to release the ritual, but I was moving into rational consciousness and realized my looking at the windows was not keeping the train on the track. The train goes on the track. It's not going to drop off the track and fly a block over other houses to my window.

Rational consciousness. Rational consciousness was not really comfortable for me, though, because I couldn't find a way to be safe there. I would tell myself the train can't come off the track, but it was more intellect than real trust. I needed the rituals of magical consciousness. I had other rituals. Before I went to bed I remember the adults in the house had to say, “Good night. Pleasant dreams. See you in the morning.” And if they forgot any of those things, I couldn't go to sleep until I got them to come back and say it, because somehow those magical words, those ritual words created a safe space. But with rational consciousness what would create safety? How could I be safe?

I moved through rational consciousness pretty quickly. I already had connection with spirit from very early in childhood, and that connection continued through the magical, mythic consciousness and into rational. But I couldn't be as present with spirit in rational consciousness and my parents kept saying, “You're too old for this make-believe.” So I jumped through rational consciousness and in a sense held on to the psychic stage of subtle consciousness as a refuge, as a place of safety. “Spirit does too exist!” That kind of thinking.

I was really still much more in mythic consciousness than psychic consciousness, a combination of both. So I want to reinforce this idea: we move back and forth between it all. When I got in bed at night, if I was particularly scared about something, for example if I was angry at someone and my own negative feelings came up and I was afraid of my anger, I would immediately revert to the magical consciousness and using the tools like “Good night. Pleasant dreams. See you in the morning.” “Watch for the trains.” I no longer needed someone else to say the words, just to move into the ritual.

So I somewhat avoided fully stabilizing into rational consciousness, and preferred living invision-logic and even jumping to psychic consciousness.. Finally Spirit, Mahara-ji, said to me, “You have to come back and live in the real world.” At about age 11 I started serious daily meditation, and it took me into a more stable subtle consciousness. There was still a strong preference for what arose in subtle consciousness, a deep sense of presence of spirit, interconnection with all that is, with trees, with everything, a preference for that over the everyday, rational world. I did not yet know how to be in that everyday world and still rest in subtle consciousness. Looking back, I see that I tried to jump from mythic to psychic, skipping over rational and the first phase of vision-logic.

So I was angry at the world around me. I was angry at God. I wanted connection with God, and I wanted separation from what I perceived as a cruel God; a God out there, still separate from myself. I wavered back and forth. The whole experience led me into that dark night of the soul as a teenager. I will talk only briefly about this “dark-night” experience. There are some very good books about it. I'm happy to talk about it at some level, but that discussion goes off a ways from the focus of the workshop. But it's a natural stage of the movement of evolving consciousness.

First we live in a rational consciousness that says, “I'm here and God is out there.” And then we have a profound experience of interconnection, of dissolution of the ego, dissolution of the body. We start to see that we're interconnected with everything and it's terrifying. What happens to me if I'm interconnected with everything? Will I annihilate myself?

So these fears come up. The ego wants to maintain itself. Part of the result of these fears is the dark night of the soul, where we can't find who we are and where we are and where to go from here. We are afraid to know our connection with all-that-is, and afraid not to; there is anger. If we stay with it, we pass through it. For me vipassana practice was the tool. The dark night was ages 15-17. I didn't have a conscious vipassana practice but it was basically what we're teaching you here, just to be present and to take fear as the object, to take anger as the object, until gradually there was total confidence that all of these-- fear, anger, confusion-- were simply arising from conditions and were not who I was. I was creating a self-identity with them but this was not real. This is not who I was. If not that, then what am I?

We work with this in vipassana classes and the more advanced classes, this whole experience of dissolution of the body and ego, and coming to know, if I'm not the body, if I'm not the mind, what am I? There's a beautiful book by Sri Nasargadata Maharaj, I Am That, that addresses this question. If you're curious to read more about the experience of dark night, there are numerous books, and  also more books about the experience of emptiness, of not-self. No-self doesn't mean I don't exist, it simply means I'm not this solid body, this mind, this consciousness. What am I beyond all of that? Who am I?

Through meditation we begin to move into a much more stable sense of connection with the heart essence of our being. At this point we move from the low astral into the high astral. We start to live in a place of connection with the world. So I did that for a number of years. I was living my life happily in a fulfilled way as a sculptor. I met a loving man and got married. I was no longer living constantly in fear or negativity. Then I lost my hearing and it knocked the ground out from under me. Whoops! Back I went into magical consciousness! “I must have done something wrong to deserve this. Who do I blame for it?” But it didn't keep hold of me for very long because a much wiser and deeper part of me-- part of me had dropped down to the basement and part of me was still up there saying, “Now wait a minute. What are you doing? Look at the stories you're making up. Is that really where you want to be, back watching for trains though the windows? Come on back up.” So I was able to move through it, not easily, but a little bit easier.

I had to open my heart to the pain. Part of the reason we engage in the magical, mythic, even rational consciousness, is they're ways of distancing ourselves from pain. An imitation of subtle consciousness can also be a hiding place, as I mentioned earlier. We need to acknowledge: this pain is real, and I have the capacity to hold space for this pain. This pain doesn't need to destroy me. Many of you have experienced different kinds of terrible pain and you know what I'm talking about, that place of choice where we can say, “I'm wiped out by this; I quit.” or “No, I choose not to be destroyed by this but to open my heart and find the vast spaciousness of the heart.”

Then we move from high astral to non-dual consciousness. My first experiences of non-dual consciousness were as a young child, but at that point they were as a hiding place. The rational world did not seem rational to me. I grew up in the ‘40's when the Holocaust was going on. We had extended family living in Europe, and reports of people who were in concentration camps, people who had died, this was dinner table conversation. I thought to myself, I don't want to live in a world like this. So I used the non-dual experiences that I had as a way of escaping. But we can't use non-dual consciousness as a way of escaping rational consciousness. We need to use it as a container for holding rational consciousness.

At this point I live very much, but not 24/7, in non-dual consciousness. I still wake up at night knowing there's a potentially poisonous spider near me, with fear coming up. Then I remind myself, come back into the open heart. We bring it all together.

So what I want to challenge you to do is to reflect on this in the coming weeks. I want you to think about, as days go by, moment by moment, in what level of consciousness am I really stable right now? When this happens, you're driving, you've pulled up at a traffic light, you're happy, singing to yourself, and the car behind you doesn't stop and crashes into you. What comes up? What happens? You're sitting down at the lake eating dinner and a hornet comes along and stings you. It was such a good dinner and suddenly, ahh! What state and stage of consciousness? Where are you most stable? What are your highest intentions? Where do you choose to be stable, in terms of your consciousness?  What helps you to move into that level of consciousness and find more stability there? Using your guidance, using meditation, simply reminding yourself of your highest intentions;all of these things help.

Are you clear what I want you to reflect on in the coming six weeks? Any questions about what I've said?

(next recording file)

Aaron: Good afternoon, and my love to you all. I wanted Barbara to speak first because she is human. It's easy to look at me and say, “You're not human. It's easy for you.” But I went through this whole progression of consciousness through many lifetimes as human. But Barbara is perhaps a bit more convincing because she's right here with you, and she suffers spider bites and loss.

Addressing A's question first. (about how the levels of consciousness connect and contain each other) Imagine two children ages 3 and 7. The mother puts out the plate of cookies and the 3 -year-old rushes over and says, “I want them all!” At one level, the 7 year old is thinking, “I want them all, too!” But the 7 year old is now in rational consciousness and recognizes, first, we don't each need a dozen cookies. It's a big plate of cookies, maybe higher than he can count. But also, from rational consciousness, he recognizes the fairness of dividing them equally.

Now, there's an older sibling in the room also, a 14 year old sitting in a chair at the other end of the room, reading. So here are the two younger siblings squabbling about this. “I want them all!” “No, you get half.” The older sibling comes up and says, “You're the smallest. Could you really eat two dozen cookies? Maybe it would be wise if we each take what we need. How many do you think you could really eat? Let's each start with eating one. Enjoy it calmly together. Then we can take a second if we want it.” Now at a certain point the 3 year old says, “I'm full. I don't want any more cookies.” So the 3 year old is in that “I want. It's mine.” consciousness, the 7 year old in rational consciousness, and perhaps the 14 year old more in vision logic consciousness.

The 7 year old is able to respond to the younger sibling because she recognizes, “I want them all, too. But that's not fair.” But from that place she knows what the 3 year old is feeling. She doesn't put down the 3 year old and say, “Oh, you're just a stupid little kid.” but says, “I know you want them all, but so do I, and it would be fair to share them.” And the 14 year old likewise understands from his own feelings how the 3 and 7 year olds are experiencing this situation.

When Barbara says the higher level, the non-dual level of consciousness embraces the others, contains the others, it's a statement we recognize, in another situation, another lifetime: there is me. There is me shouting, “You have a different hairstyle than me. We should kill you. Your skin is a different color. We should kill you.” That could be me. Opening the heart with compassion and remembering how it felt to be so caught up in fear, feeling powerless, afraid, trying to find power, and knowing this non-dual level, or even vision logic level, is able to embrace all of this.

You can only embrace from where you are. In other words, the vision logic level cannot embrace from non-dual. It's only intellectual. But from everything down from there, you can embrace. Does that answer your question?

We must meet people with no contempt for where they are. The most important thing is beginning to recognize where you are stable and what pulls you out of that stability. To hold your highest intentions, whether they be for non-harm, for kindness, for service, or all of that, and ask yourself repeatedly, is what I am about to say or do suitable to that intention? If not, what options do I have? Can I just breathe? Feeling enormous rage, can I just breathe?

Barbara used an illustration of being rear-ended. It happened to her years ago. She was driving her friend's borrowed van while her car was in the shop being fixed. She had driven her child to school on the other side of town and was driving down Stadium Blvd, stopped at the light on Main and Stadium. Was just sitting there, humming to herself, thinking about what she would do all day, when a truck simply smacked into her. She felt some pain. The back of the borrowed van was lightly damaged. She felt guilt, then rage. What was he thinking? She wanted to jump out of the car and scream at him. And she stopped and asked herself, “What is my highest intention?”

She breathed. She felt her neck. She realized she was not badly hurt. She had a seatbelt on, there was something to catch her head. Finally she got out of the car. They exchanged the necessary information. The policeman came, and all the rituals you have about auto accidents. By the time the policeman had come and left, she was joking with the man. He was feeling so ashamed. He had just stopped looking ahead for a moment. He was slowing, approaching the light. He saw it turn red. He looked down to pick up something, and (crash!). His car was more badly damaged than hers.

This is the possibility, when you're able to come back and connect with another, see both of your anger, both of your shame, both of your fear; his guilt and her guilt, because she felt responsible for this borrowed van. It was okay. It's just something that happens when you drive in traffic. You never know. Let it go.

Barbara has already said this, I'm simply repeating it one more time. Move into a deep connection with your highest intentions. Watch the places where you get caught. Keep asking yourself, “What keeps me in a higher level of consciousness?” If you have a strong connection with spirit, keep asking for help. If anger or other strong emotion comes up, just pause and breathe with it. Keep looking at your body. Where are the chakras closed? Where am I stuck? That which is aware of being stuck is not stuck. I'm going to tell you this a thousand ways. Can you rest in that which is not stuck? Why are you avoiding it? Do you feel powerless there? Do you feel that only anger has power? Anger is energy. Love is also energy. How do you reconnect in the toughest life situations?

That's all I have to say right now. We're going to move into two exercises. Let me explain them to you, at least the first one, while we're sitting here. I think they're best done outdoors, though.

The first one, we're going to break you up into groups of 5 or 6 people. I have one beautiful flower for each group. Have you done any improvisation, any of you, play-acting? Because from your present level of consciousness, if I hold up the flower to the group of 5 or 6 and say, “Who wants it?”, everybody's going to say, “Oh, give it to him. Give it to her.” But I want you to go into that child consciousness that says, “I want it!” Really remember how that feels. Who am I going to give this to? “I want it!” “I want it!”

So in your group of 6, one person taking the role of holding out the flower, or maybe just laying the flower on a chair or the ground in the middle of the group. Who wants it? Feel the tension. Use play-acting and imagination. “I want it. I want it. Mine.” And think how it feels, about why you should put yourself ahead.

When everybody has felt that I want the whole group to take hands. Everyone spends a few minutes with silent metta, feeling the others' tension. Everybody wants this. May everybody be happy. Now feel the shift. Open eyes, looking in each other's eyes. And now, look at each other and ask, “Okay, who gets the flower?” Feel that shift in consciousness. Do you understand the exercise?

I'm going to tell you about exercise two, also. I think we'll have about 10-15 minutes for each exercise. In exercise two, keep in the same groups. Hold hands. A leader will lead each group around in a line. The leader's eyes are open; everybody else's eyes are closed. As you are led, watch what helps you to move into a higher consciousness both personally and as a group. The leader must lead from that connected place. If the leader is simply leading from the ego, nobody else can follow. But if the leader establishes that connection, the group can connect. As you're led, feel any fear come up. If the leader feels the group stop, then pause for a moment. Give the group time to re-center itself. Then slowly begin to lead again.

You may wind in and out between each other, only the leaders' eyes open. After a few minutes, the leader stops, squeezes the next person's hand so that they open their eyes. The leader steps back to the tail of the line, and the person who was number two becomes the new leader, and the group moves on. So everyone has the opportunity to experience both being the leader and being at the tail end. Any questions?

What I want you to watch for is what levels of consciousness make it more comfortable to simply open and move with this line. What level makes it more comfortable to lead this line? How does it feel when the group is connected versus a lot of egos?

Okay. Let's count off by sixes...(counting, form groups)

(session ends)

Amy's sound teaching and sound bath were not recorded.